Disaster planning and preparedness for libraries

For Immediate Release
Tue, 10/19/2021


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing & Media

American Library Association



CHICAGO — The library is a vital information hub and resource provider every single day, and that’s doubly true when calamity strikes. In fact, libraries’ designation as “essential community functions” during disasters is now encoded in U.S. law. Engaging as a partner in planning and preparedness will build much-needed community support should disaster strike, and even a basic plan will also save library workers time and stress later on. No matter where a library is in the disaster planning cycle, “The Disaster Planning Handbook for Libraries,” published by ALA Editions, will make the process clearer and less daunting. Author Mary Grace Flaherty provides tools, activities, easy-to-adapt templates, and hands-on guidance on such topics as:

  • the six phases of disaster response;
  • 15 first-hand accounts of library disaster planning or responses, helping libraries identify the services most needed during a disaster;
  • preparing for hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods, and earthquakes;
  • ideas for connecting with the community’s emergency response teams; 
  • federal government planning resources;
  • pointers on working with state and local governments;
  • a sample Memorandum of Understanding to outline mutual support for a speedier recovery;
  • recommended courses and training, many of which are free;
  • targeted advice for archives and special collections;
  • sample building inspection checklists; and
  • recommended games to help children and families prepare.

Flaherty is professor emeritus at the School of Information & Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her PhD in Information Science from Syracuse University where she was an IMLS Fellow. She has her MLS from the University of Maryland and MS in Behavioral Science from Johns Hopkins University and is a Fulbright scholar. Dr. Flaherty has wide-ranging experience in a variety of library settings. Also the author of “Promoting Individual and Community Health at the Library,” she has published extensively in the library literature.

Many book retailers and distributors are experiencing service disruptions or delays, including Amazon. For speediest service, order direct from the ALA Store. ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library and information professionals worldwide. ALA Editions | ALA Neal-Schuman publishes resources used by library and information professionals, scholars, students, and educators to improve programs and services, build on best practices, enhance pedagogy, share research, develop leadership, and promote advocacy. ALA authors and developers are leaders in their fields, and their content is published in a variety of print and electronic formats. Contact ALA Editions | ALA Neal-Schuman at editionsmarketing@ala.org.